Monday, October 14, 2013

Just Words

As I was browsing through Facebook, I came across a post from a local bicycle shop. They had put up the following picture:
At first, I didn't think anything about it as I just scrolled by without giving it much attention, but as I scrolled back up the page, something kind of nagged at me about this. As I thought about it, I realized just how much I personally saw wrong with this statement. It isn't that I don't have a sense of humor, and I can take it in the spirit it was intended, but I think that ignoring these sorts of "funny" statements isn't necessarily the way to go either.

First, I see this statement as somewhat elitist. It makes it sound (or at least, is inferred) that in order to get into cycling, a person has to spend a great deal of money. If you don't have that money, then you aren't permitted to join this special group of people who can spend lots of extra money on bicycles. Is this really the image that should be projected by a local bike shop? I've been in this specific store several times, and they do carry a wide range of bicycles that range from fairly inexpensive up to the most ridiculously costly bikes, but this statement certainly doesn't reflect that. If I was looking for a bike and knew nothing about this shop, I'm not sure I'd want to go here as an option.

Along with the elitist sort of thoughts, I can't help but wonder why on earth one would be concerned about his bicycles after he's passed on. Not only is he concerned, but it's apparently his biggest fear. Again, I fully understand that this is intended as a joke, however, is this individual so caught up in monetary concerns that even after he's no longer in an earthly body he's worried about how much he'll (or his wife) get out of the bikes?

Then there's my bigger issue here. I find it interesting that the individual who created this chose to use the pronoun "wife" instead of "partner" or "spouse." I know plenty of women who have spent their fair share on bicycles, and in fact, using our household as only one example, I have far more monetarily into my bikes than Sam has into his. There are reasons for this outside of money, but I can't say I care for the inference that the "little lady" can't possibly know the costs of a bicycle nor a reasonable price to sell it. Doesn't this just perpetuate ideas that should have long ago died out?

As stated, I could easily have passed by this meme and not thought twice, and I see the humor in the general idea, but I don't know if I believe this is an appropriate statement or idea to be spreading... particularly by a bike shop. On one hand, I'm not so serious about life that I think everything someone says is an attempt to keep segments of society at a lower level, but on the other, I think there should be more awareness in regard to the wording of statements as well. Although I'm certainly no angel and have undoubtedly said things that may have offended someone, that is never my intention to do so. Is intent the most important piece of the puzzle, or are there statements that should never be made? What do you think? They are just words, but words create ideas and lead to the formation of opinions - whether good or bad, positive or negative. Should memes like the one above be taken with humor and the spirit they were intended, or are there instances when ideas like these simply shouldn't be spread?

10 comments:

  1. So, on the outset, it's a funny meme. Underneath, it's laced with deception. So, you have hidden the true cost of your bikes, apparently so badly, it's hauting you in the afterlife? As a meme, its funny, but it's way too close to reality, all of it. Men/bike shops believing that women are too dumb to "really" know the value of a bicycle? Or that this is important after you pass? It shouldnt bug me, but its Monday, and it does....

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  2. This resembles me...?

    I totally get what the meme is conveying. Let me give you an example:

    [Incredulous/appalled tone]: "You got new tires?!?!"

    "Uh, yeah."

    "Well how much did that cost us?"

    "40 dollars."

    Each. But I don't say that. Am I lying? Yes. Am I intentionally deceiving? Yes. Is it because I want to keep buying bike stuff? Yes. Does it all come out in the wash? Debatable.

    Same goes for bikes.

    "Well how much will the new bike cost?"

    "A few hundred dollars?"

    "How many hundred?"

    "Er, 6 or 8."

    "Is it six or eight?"

    "Yes!"

    And with tax the bike cost a cool $1,200. It was a multiple of 6. Somehow it all made sense at the time!!! I'm not responsible! I shouldn't be allowed to make decisions on my own! It's not my fault! I'M ADDICTED TO BIKES!!!

    Anyway, it's true. The bike-centric spouses tend to understate the value of the goods to increase the perceived value in case the actual value is somewhat overinflated and therefore we get screwed from a purely economic standpoint although in my expert opinion...your honor...you can't really put a dollar value on a good bicycle. And so somehow we justify an overinflated (or not) cost because we know we'll recoup the dinero through our complete and total enjoyment of the object. But if our spouses were to sell based on what we told them we spent then they would not enjoy the same benefit and we're really just trying to look out for our families.

    Right?

    Right?!

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  3. Maybe we are the minority? I know, and G.E. Knows the value, or non-value of every bike and part we have, good bad or evil. I get it, the numbers get blurry.... but at some point in the last couple of years, i stopped caring about the sticker price (within survivable budget). Monday has either made me clear, or foggy....humm. what are we talking about?

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  4. Maybe it's just because it's Monday, but it bugged me. I think it does perpetuate the idea that women are so easily duped about the value of mechanical things. I can imagine an equally irritating meme about a woman who fears her spouse will learn what she paid for her shoes. On top of the gender sterotyping, it's also a weird image of marriage. Why would spouses hide the cost of their passions from each other? Aren't we in this together, sharing resources, wanting to support our partners in their dreams and loves? I'm the cyclist in our family, but I would never hide the cost of my purchases from my spouse. Likewise, my spouse is a photographer, and I know exactly what he spends on his equipment.

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    1. I think I'm just confused as to why I bike shop would put this out to the public... especially one that is in a pretty progressive/liberal community. Why spread this sort of thought at all to their reading public?

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  5. The quote isn't that funny, but it didn't really bother me, much. Certainly, the financial implications don't bother me; of course, one can become a cyclist without spending much, and that's a beautiful thing. But, the quote refers to multiple bikes, and the humor hinges on the fact that they're expensive bikes. This is not a joke about cyclists in general; this is a joke for/about bicycle collectors.

    As far as the baked-in gender issues: as someone who cares deeply about progress and equality, these things always bother me. I try not to see things like this as "male versus female", just as I try not to see things as "homo vs hetero", "black vs white", "young vs old", etc. One is either for progress, or not/ And, just as much as it pains me to see humor arriving at the expense of gender-based stereotypes, it pains me to know so many ppl who reinforce those stereotypes by flagrantly embodying them. I know too many ppl who hassle their spouses about their purchases, all too often along cliched lines. He's mad that she bought the shoes; she's mad that he bought the tools, hahahah, et cetera. It's tired as a form of "humor", but it's downright depressing as the lifestyle choices upon which the attempted humor is based.

    My wife and I work out our contributions to the shared overhead expenses and savings, and whatever we have left is our own personal spending money. Separate accounts n all. We don't criticize one another for what we do with our cash, and we seem to argue far less than some other couples we know. YMMV

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    1. I think this is about as perfect a statement as I could come up with in regard to my personal thoughts/feelings, so thank you.

      In regard to monetary contributions in our household - they have always been shared in some fashion. It's changed over time because there was a point when I had more income than Sam, we've both gone through periods of unemployment, and now to the current state of my extremely variable, and at times non-existent income. Our shared responsibility has varied through each of these, but we find ways to balance it all out. To me, this is part of a committed relationship - we are equals, regardless of the numbers. Of course, this works for us, and may not for some others.

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    2. =D Absolutely; "sharing" is not always going to be the same thing as "sharing equally", and like most ppl, we've been thru different situations where one of us has to pull more weight than the other-- for instance, I contributed a little more when I was getting piles of OT and she was scrambling in an entry-level position. Similarly, when I was student teaching and only working about 12 hours/week on the clock, she picked up the slack. One of the best things that have come out of the financial realities of these past 20 or so years is that the term "breadwinner" has become pretty much a gender-neutral term, as it should be.

      Any relationship is going to have some idiosyncrasies in terms of division of labor, financial burden, leisure activities, etc. We all have to play our strengths, and let our partners do the same. Preconceived gender-based expectations may seem simpler to some, but in my view, they don't allow us to maximize our contributions to the family unit in accordance with our individual needs and abilities.

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  6. I would add that I have a problem with money. I have little concept of its ebbs and flows and honesty it shames me most of the time. So even on justifiable purchases I harbor inordinate amounts of guilt. There have been times when we're doing really well financially and I still tend to hide my purchases, not because I don't want my wife to know what I'm spending but that I have guilt for spending at all.

    While it's not healthy we've learned to better communicate and I do my best to either not make stupid purchases or at least to let my wife know when I've overdrawn the checkbook buying CO2 cartridges.

    My issues have less to do with the fact that my wife doesn't understand the value and more to do with me being terribly impulsive.

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    1. :O) I can identify with impulsiveness, certainly.

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